Berth (moorings)

Designated location in a port or harbour used for mooring vessels For other uses, see Berth.

A berth is a designated location in a port or harbour used for mooring vessels when they are not at sea. Berths provide a vertical front which allows safe and secure mooring that can then facilitate the unloading or loading of cargo or people from vessels.


Locations in a port

Two small marina-type berths

Berth is the term used in ports and harbors for a designated location where a vessel may be moored, usually for the purposes of loading and unloading. Berths are designated by the management of a facility (e.g., port authority, harbor master). Vessels are assigned to berths by these authorities.

Most berths are alongside a quay or a jetty (large ports) or a floating dock (small harbors and marinas). Berths are either general or specific to the types of vessel that use them. The size of the berths varies from 5–10:m (16–33:ft) for a small boat in a marina to over 400:m (1,300:ft) for the largest tankers. The rule of thumb is that the length of a berth should be roughly 10% longer than the longest vessel to be moored at the berth.

Berth in Pipiriki, Wanganui River, New Zealand. Postcard. 1930s.

Berth types

By construction

The following is a list of berth types based on the method of construction:

Solid Structure Berth In these berths, a solid vertical structure is created to contain fill material which is brought all the way to the structure. They can be constructed using either a gravity wall structure where the front wall of the structure uses its own weight and friction to contain the fill or with a sheet pile structure where an anchoring plate is used to contain the weight of the fill dirt. Open Structure Berth Open berths feature structures supported by piles set slightly off shore from the natural extent of the land or the farthest extent of fill dirt. This style of berth can offer more flexibility in the specificity of construction but also presents more complicated dredging projects afterwards and also limits the amount of weight the berth is able to support and resist.

By shore connection

Berths can be classified by whether they are attached to the shore:

Finger Pier Used to maximize the berthing space per length of waterfront. Finger piers are often used for small to medium vessels associated with passenger travel. Finger piers can also be used for dangerous cargoes such as military cargo that can not be used with offshore berths because of the weight and equipment requirements. In these instances long finger piers may reach far offshore, with access for rail or other cargo-moving methods. Offshore Berth Used when cargo-handling or storage... more
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